Jun. 24th, 2010

...but not like that.

I just got back from an extended vacation/conference. I am apparently no longer able to take vacation without also going to a conference, but that's not the point of this post.

I noticed, at the conference that I was hanging out with a couple of different groups of people: grad students on my experiment, professors from my university, other random people I know. And I noticed that while I was hanging out with different groups, I was noticeably and appreciably shifting my gender presentation—at least within the allowed boundaries of masculinity for physicists. For example, when hanging out with the grad students on my experiment, I gravitated towards a beer-soccer version. (World Cup, WOOOOOO! USA! USA!) When with the profs, I tended towards a less...loud...aspect of gender performance, and more towards a competence-sophisticated version of masculinity.

Now both of these (and all the other masculinities I perform(ed)) are not inaccurate representations of my gender. I do love soccer. I do love beer. I do love long lunchtime discussions of experiments. But it was extra apparent to me that I was specifically manipulating aspects of my personality to fit those I was with, and that manipulation felt particularly gendered to me during this conference.

I'm not really sure what to make of this, other than it feels a lot like my ambivalence about what my gender actually means to me, as I talked about in this post on the cisgender/transgender distinction. Which is to say that 20-some years into my life, fiveish years into transition, and I still have no clue how to define my gender, despite being perfectly clear that medical transition has been exactly the right thing for me.



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